Warm BK welcome precedes 'a step back'

BROOKLYN –- Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce got a warm ovation in their Barclays debut.

But the Nets apparently were feeling the Brooklyn love too much, as they were too hospitable and accommodating for their head coach’s liking. The Brooklyn defense struggled in a 99-88 loss, leaving the new Nets feeling like they had taken a step in the wrong direction.

“Well I’m not really worried about offense,” Pierce said after the Nets’ first preseason defeat. “We want to become a defensive team, and when you give up those points in the paint, dunks, yeah we definitely took a step back.”

The Pistons shot 51.4 percent from the field and had their way in the paint by outscoring the Nets inside, 50-32. That wasn’t good, considering Jason Kidd emphasized protecting the paint to his team before the game.

“We are not going to hang our hat on the offensive end,” Kidd said. “It is going to be on the defensive end. Again, this is a work in progress and this is a night that we kind of needed. We got to work on protecting that paint and we didn’t do that.”

Pierce felt the Nets took a step forward during some hard practices and bonding at training camp at Duke. And the Nets showed positive signs in their overtime preseason opening victory at Washington.

The starters didn’t play a ton for the second straight game as Garnett logged 11 minutes and had eight points. Pierce played 14 minutes and scored five points. Deron Williams and Jason Terry remained out due to injuries.

“What everybody has to understand still is we are obviously a work in progress,” Garnett said. “Great game for us to learn from. We didn’t pack the paint in as well as I think we can. We will get better. I think this is a great tape for us to watch tomorrow and I am sure Jason will take us through it and we will learn from it.”

And perhaps when the team watches the tape, Garnett will see again the nice ovation he and Pierce got at the start of the game. Garnett pointed at several different directions in the crowd to acknowledge the ovation.

“It felt like first day of school to be honest,” Garnett said. “I was super excited, just glad to be here.

“Paul can concur to some of this, it is a good energy here man, you can tell the city and the community has embraced us and we are trying to give that back with hard play and effort.”